India is the second largest producer of tea in the world, second only to China. It is one of the largest producers of orthodox, CTC, green, and organic teas. The tea industry in India is the second largest employer after the Indian Railways. It provides numerous direct and indirect job opportunities across the country. The industry contributes significantly to the Indian economy and earns a substantial chunk of the total foreign exchange. According to Statista, the export value of Indian tea for the fiscal year 2021 was over 56 billion Indian Rupees, a slight decrease from the previous year’s 58.5 billion Indian Rupees. This minor decrease can be attributed to the chronic COVID pandemic. According to some projections, the Indian tea industry is expected to produce an annual crop of 1.40 million tonnes by 2026.
With such a massive tea market, India surely offers a great career in the tea industry. Many multi-million-dollar businesses have bloomed around this tea industry recently. Below, we have listed some of the best tea-based businesses.
Kung Fu Tea
Headquartered in New York City, New York, United States, Kung Fu Tea is an American beverage franchise founded in 2010. The franchise operates more than 290 outlets throughout the United States. It has recently begun its operations in Canada, Australia, and Cambodia. Known for its bubble tea, Kung Fu tea is renowned for unrivaled quality, utmost precision, and attention to detail. Kung Fu Tea is also known as the Starbucks of bubble tea. The Kung Fu Tea menu includes drinks named Classic, Milk Tea, Punch, Milk Cap, Yogurt, Slush, Milk Strike, Espresso, Seasonal, and many others.
Ding Tea is a well-known beverage franchise founded by Mr. Xu Wei-Xiang in 2004. The Taiwanese brand is aimed at providing high-quality authentic Taiwanese tea to its customers and hence promoting the Taiwanese tea culture.
Ding Tea is renowned for serving traditional boba tea, milk tea, and fruit juice made fresh to order.
MBA Chai Wala
MBA Chai Wala is a pan India chai venture founded by Prafull Billore in 2017. Once an aspirant for Business Administration (MBA), Prafull was unable to get admission to the reputed Indian Business Schools (IIMs). He started his Chai Business in Ahmedabad with an investment of Rs.8000. Today he owns a multi-million-dollar company having a Rs 4 crore turnover business and 50 outlets pan India. Prafull sells chai in earthen pots with toasts and tissues which attracts many customers. The MBA in the brand’s name refers to Mr. Billore Ahmedabad, not Master of Business Administration, says Prafull.
Chai Sutta Bar
Anubhav Dubey and Anand Nayak realized that chai is one of the most consumed beverages in the whole world. Especially in a typical Indian household, chai holds a unique status. The duo decided to start a tea café chain in Indore in 2016 with an initial capital of Rs 30 lakhs. The founders claim that their brand is not for classes but the masses, and aims at the common customer. Tea at Chai Sutta Bar starts at Rs 10, which makes it quite affordable. The brand has more than 200 outlets in 100 cities and claims cumulative sales of 100 crores.
Vahdam Teas was launched in 2015 by Bala Sarda. The company is India’s largest digitally native, global wellness brand and has taken the country’s finest teas and superfoods to consumers across the globe. Bala Sarda was raised in New Delhi and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Studies. His father was born and raised in Darjeeling, a city in India famous for its high-quality teas. Sarda has more than 85 years of lineage in tea. He realized that despite the high production of tea, India was dependent on bulk exports of raw materials. What lacked here was a native brand that can take these premium teas to a global level. Sarda took it as an opportunity and created India’s biggest herbal tea brand Vahdam Teas.
A 6th generation tea planter Atulit Chokhani, once visited a family-run vineyard in South Africa which was marketing stellar wines. He realized that he could do the same with his 150 years old family-run business. He got back home and started Tea Shelf with his family members Srinidhi and Smriti. Today the brand deploys its 150 years of experience in the production, collection, packaging, and distribution of some of the finest teas in the world. The Tea Shelf sells teas in both bulk and retail divisions and has its customer base in both domestic as well as international markets.
Chai Kings is a franchise model business that was founded in 2016 by friends Jahabar Sadique and Balaji Sadagopan. The tea chain has grown from 4 to 40+ outlets in just a few years. The brand is known for its delicious-smelling hot teas of different flavors like ginger, masala, iced, Sulaimani, etc with minimalist branding.
Pankaj Judge’s love for tea motivated him to provide every chai lover with a hygenic, home-like, and affordable cup of chai. This desire led Pankaj to create Chai Thela, a chai-based start-up that ascended to 3rd position in the list of top 10 Indian start-ups serving tea in 2018. Currently, Chai Thela operates around 35 cafes in 9 different Indian states and many more are in the pipeline. The USP of Chai Thela is the traditional Indian earthen pots (called kulhads) for serving tea to customers. The brand claims that by doing so it not only becomes environment-friendly but also supports and promotes local businesses.
Tpot Café is a tea-based start-up headed by its founder Robin Jha. Based out of Delhi, the food and beverage brand has recently raised INR 6 crores and has opened 20 cafes all over Delhi. Tpot Café offers a large array of different flavored teas. The brand is well-known for its Hibiscus cold tea, and also offers seasonal tea for different occasions. Robin, the founder of the brand aims to enhance the mark to 250-300 outlets in at least 4-5 cities in India in the upcoming years.